SEO Automation: What is it & How to Do It Effectively
SEO automation is the process of empowering marketing and SEO teams with the right tools to execute growth campaigns faster, streamline workflow, and improve the quality of results at a lower cost.
It’s a resourceful alternative to performing time-consuming activities, allowing you to focus on those that can’t be automated or require more human input.
It can help streamline marketing operations at every stage of the sales funnel, whether you’re trying to gather meaningful insights from your SEO campaigns or looking to evade repetitive SEO tasks like keyword research.
The Evolution of SEO: From Manual to Automated
Over the years, the SEO industry has experienced several significant changes, and technology has been the predominant factor spearheading these changes.
Ranking on top of the search results is not as easy as it used to be. The traditional SEO method would require infusing the right keywords in your content to rank on top of the SERPs for relevant search queries; modern SEO, however, demands more.
So, adopting the traditional manual SEO method in today’s SEO will be like trying to win a Formula-1 race with a horse-drawn carriage. It’s neither effective nor efficient.
This is why you need SEO automation tools.
They can help you stay ahead of the curve by providing access to user and industry insights formerly inaccessible by human capacity. They also help to improve productivity by automating manual tasks based on predefined criteria and actions.
Don’t take my word for it, though:
- 91% of marketing professionals use automation tools to achieve their objectives
- 76% of companies use marketing automation
- 75% of marketing departments increased their conversion rates using automation software
- Omnichannel marketing automation brings in a 90% higher customer retention rate than single-channel automation
Aside from operation efficiency, SEO automation can help to:
- Simplify data analysis
- Reduce operational costs
- Streamline workflow among teams and stakeholders
- Save time, effort, and resources
- Improve website performance and overall marketing ROI (return on investment) by providing access to actionable, real-time insights
- Integrate and synchronize SEO tools and data for even more improved automation
Understanding the fundamentals
While SEO automation helps you scale your marketing efforts, it can’t yield optimal results in isolation. It’s not a solution that replaces human efforts but quite the opposite.
For instance, when Chat-GPT was launched, it created a lot of mixed reactions among marketers and SEOs alike. Is it here to take over content creation completely? I wouldn’t think so.
Making the most of SEO automation tools requires human expertise to appropriate the functionalities in a way that drives business goals. Think of SEO automation software as a dynamic workflow, like if this, then that.
For example, you can use SEO automation tools to receive first-hand notifications when there are specific site changes, like a drop in rankings or traffic.
The core components of automation
There are three core components of SEO automation:
- Manual SEO tasks automation:
This is the first layer of automation. It involves using tools to perform daily repetitive tasks like web scanning, analyzing rankings, crawls, etc. SEO tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs, Screaming Frog, etc., have these features out of the box.
- Data analysis and monitoring:
The volume of data available today is overwhelming, and analyzing this data manually can be very time-consuming, especially for medium-sized and enterprise brands with hundreds to thousands of web pages.
Automation in this stage entails data analysis and segregation. Machine learning (ML) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) software can be used in this case to:
- Analyze large volumes of data efficiently
- Sift through the data to extract meaningful insights that can be used to inform future SEO campaigns
- Proactively monitor website performance to detect issues before they cause any significant harm
- Automated execution and deployment at scale:
Automation tools can handle large-scale operations more efficiently than manual efforts. They can crawl through vast amounts of data, identify patterns, and implement changes across numerous web pages simultaneously in a fraction of the time that’ll take a human. This makes it easy for businesses to scale their offerings without extra costs.
Best SEO automation tools to consider:
Luckily, there are several SEO tools available in a marketer’s arsenal to reduce tasks and uncover new insights from business data. These tools are powered using AI, ML, and NLP technologies to increase operational efficiency and cost-savings:
- SEMRush: Best for SEO professionals who stay on par with their website performance, monitor insights (including competitor strategies), discover best-performing keywords, and more.
- Google Search Console: Best for all web admins to monitor website performance, track organic traffic and user engagements, analyze individual web pages for issues, etc.
- Frase: AI-powered content ideation and creation assistant for generating well-researched and optimized content in minutes, speeding up the entire content creation process. Best for marketers and professionals looking to create large amounts of content quickly.
- Respona: This holistic email outreach platform is perfect for finding digital PR opportunities, finding and sending emails, and managing relationships with journalists and publishers.
- Surfer SEO: Surfer offers a suite of automated SEO instruments designed to streamline the entire SEO process. These tools are capable of simplifying tasks ranging from generating keyword ideas and conducting topic analysis, to producing and refining web content for SEO purposes.
- Screaming Frog: Screaming Frog is an excellent choice for those wanting more automation. It allows you to thoroughly scan your website, offering insights into factors that may be impacting its search performance.
Aligning SEO Automation with Business Goals
While SEO automation tools excel at streamlining strenuous, repetitive tasks, the entire automation process doesn’t start with the tool itself but with your goals. Effective SEO automation hinges on a well-defined goal.
So, what is the main goal of your SEO strategy? Are you looking to increase organic traffic or enhance user experience? Explicitly defining your goals will help you know the right tools to execute your strategy.
Also, conduct a comprehensive audit of your current SEO performance to identify tasks that can be automated. You can use SEO automation tools to perform comprehensive website audits to identify SEO issues. These could be broken links, missing alt tags, or slow page loading times— these can affect search rankings and user experience.
Identify tasks that are time–consuming, repetitive, and monotonous yet crucial for the success of your campaign. For example, this may include:
- Conducting keyword research to identify conversion-intent
- Competitor analysis to know what’s already working for them
- Tracking keyword rankings on the result pages
- Sending backlink outreaches
- Content ideation, generation, and distribution
- Data tracking, analysis, and reporting to gain new insights into performance data
- Predictive monitoring to mitigate issues from search algorithms or industry updates
- Trend analysis to recognize trends and patterns in SEO data to facilitate strategic decisions that align with long-term business goals.
On-page SEO automation:
Almost all on-page SEO tasks can be automated using the right tools.
Let’s start with the basic keyword research. Automation software can help you quickly identify keywords relevant to your industry or niche.
Answer the Public is another excellent social listening tool for discovering what your customers search for in real time. It provides data from search engines autocomplete data, providing you broad access into what your audience is searching for and the exact search terms they’re using.
You can analyze these queries using SEMRush or Ahrefs to know which would perform best for your campaigns.
You can also automate content ideation, creation, and distribution processes. ChatGPT isn’t the only AI-powered content creation tool. Use automation tools like:
- Frase to create SEO-optimized content briefs in one click,
- SurferSEO for content optimization. This tool analyzes the top-performing pages on the SERPs and makes recommendations based on content length, keyword usage, and other on-page factors,
- JasperAI for creating product descriptions, long-form content, emails, and more.
In addition, you can use automation tools to create image captions and add alt text to your images, all in one click. Image optimization like Compress PNG is also helpful in compressing and optimizing web images to improve page load time. This feature is especially resourceful if you’re an eCommerce business owner with a lot of product listings.
Off-page SEO automation
Backlinks remain one of Google’s most vital indicators of website authoritativeness. But building a robust backlink profile isn’t so easy.
Luckily, there are several AI-powered tools that can help simplify your link-building process, saving you time and increasing work efficiency while boosting your website authority.
- Hunter.io: This tool is perfect for email outreach. It helps you find and verify email addresses or other vital contact info from a URL. You can even choose to export the results generated in a spreadsheet:
- BuzzSumo: This social listening tool helps you find influencers in your industry, including those who are sharing your competitor’s content:
- Ahrefs: This is an all-in-one SEO tool that allows you to analyze the inbound links to your site, including the nofollow and dofollow links:
- Respona: Have you been looking for an all-in-one link-building outreach platform? Respona may be the best option for you. From finding link-building opportunities to generating verified emails for outreaches, it has all the features to streamline your link-building process.
Technical SEO automation
Performing technical SEO analysis is only accessible when you’re managing a small site, like a portfolio website. But it’s a lot harder if you’re a medium-sized business owner looking to scale an enterprise brand.
Many people involved in decision-making — web developers, marketing teams, UX designers, etc.— collectively make changes to your site, making it prone to errors that can become almost impossible to track.
But with the power of technical SEO automation tools, you can get first-hand notifications when something changes on your site, the root cause, and how it’s affecting your overall site health.
Plus, you can conduct site crawls to find issues like broken links, duplicate content, rendering issues, missing or poorly configured sitemaps, etc.
- Screaming Frog: This is an advanced technical SEO audit tool. It analyzes both small and large sites to find technical SEO issues. You can schedule audits, create XML Sitemaps in one click, integrate web analytics tools such as Google Analytics, Search Console, and PageSpeed Insight APIs to fetch user performance data for all web pages.
- Netpeak Spider: This is another technical SEO tool with holistic features – a multi-domain crawler, advanced filtering and reporting systems, site scraper, XML Sitemap generator, and lots more. It seamlessly integrates with other analytics tools like Google Analytics and Search Console.
Advanced SEO automation techniques
User experience plays a significant role in SEO. Search engine algorithms are trained to go beyond keywords to understand the search intent behind every query to give users the best online experience.
AI, ML, and NLP-powered tools can help to analyze and understand user intent. Based on this analysis, they can make helpful recommendations to create more personalized content.
This leads to higher rankings and traffic since Google prioritizes customer-centric content over search engine-first content.
Business owners and SEO professionals can also leverage these tools to make predictive analyses based on ongoing user behavior and algorithm changes. They can have real-time access to actionable insights that help them stay ahead of the curve and mitigate the effects of these changes on search rankings.
The Human Touch in SEO Automation
As I pinpointed earlier, SEO automation depends on human intuition and creativity to yield optimal results. Of course, some tasks can be fully automated without requiring human attention, for instance, scheduling crawls or compiling campaign results.
But conversion-focused tasks like content creation, link building, creating ICP, analyzing user behavior, etc., cannot be solely entrusted to automation.
Content creation, for instance, requires a deep understanding of user search intent. It also necessitates infusing your unique ‘experience’ and ‘expertise’ to craft an informative and engaging piece entirely different from the already-published content. And in this age of AI-powered content, being different is the only thing that’ll set you apart.
‘Risk-taking content — anything that differs from the existing search results in terms of focus or opinion — has a mechanism for being rewarded.’
~ Ryan Law, VP of Content at Ahrefs
That said, you need to understand where you step in to ensure the automation process aligns with your marketing goals. One shouldn’t be ahead of the other. Overreliance on automation tools leads to subpar results – thin or generic, low-quality content, generating low-quality leads, generalized emails, etc.
“…If we don’t plug in the humans, the value won’t be rewarding. It’s the interplay between the humans and the machine that creates the magic. It’s not the opposite. It’s not the technology that replaces the humans.”
~ Andrea Volpini, Co-founder of WordLift
On the flip side, under-reliance only leads to reduced efficiency. Strive to establish an equilibrium between the two to maintain the quality of your output while sustaining the authenticity and empathy required for an effective campaign.
Also, consider the downstream impact of leveraging these tools in your SEO campaigns. What are the risks? Are there any underlying search engine penalties? You don’t want to invest in these tools only to realize it’s dragging your SEO down the drain. Communicate with your teams and relevant stakeholders to keep them in the loop of the automation process.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can SEO be fully automated?
No, SEO can only be partially automated.
SEO automation tools are human-intensive. There’s no single set-it-and-forget SEO automation tool available, as user behavior keeps changing and search engines are simultaneously updating their algorithm system to cater to search intent.
But you’ll find a ton of automation tools to offset your daily tasks and help you execute a successful SEO campaign.
How does SEO automation impact search engine rankings?
Automation, itself, has no direct impact on search rankings.
But it’s possible to generate actionable insights that can inform future SEO campaigns from these tools. These tools are also beneficial in identifying underlying issues hurting your rankings and providing recommendations on how to improve them.
What are the risks associated with SEO automation?
- They’re prone to errors. The automation tools may not always produce accurate answers/results. For instance, ChatGPT warns users to verify the information obtained from the platform:
- Laack of customization. Some of the SEO automation tools don’t have customization options, making it difficult to tailor the outcome to your industry or audience.
- Some automation tools may suggest frowned-upon outputs, like keyword stuffing, plagiarizing content to increase production efficiency, etc., which may affect your rankings in the long run.